THE WEIGHT OF PURSUING ART IN TODAY'S WORLD.
By Erin Christie
Throughout life, we encounter a tumultuous amount of peaks and valleys, high-points and pitfalls, and throughout these moments, we can do nothing but grow and develop. From experiencing our first kiss, to encountering our first taste of failure, to discovering what we want to do, our lives take many twists and turns, no matter how cliché that may seem. Eventually, as life carries us forward, we stumble upon our first pair of shoes, and no matter their appearance, they become a staple as we go about our lives: we experience those same upsets and downfalls that we always have before, now with a pair of fresh kicks to keep our toes dry, no matter how many puddle-filled streets and snow-clogged alleys we must pass through.
As you travel through life, those same sneakers on your feet and that same passion in your heart, you constantly encounter new triumphs, new setbacks, and new faces, opinions, and voices, each shaping you and your journey. In many cases, your shoes, your friends that you take along to wage the war of life, take form as art—this being your creative outlet, the means by which you can effectively use your voice and bring your opinions, ideas, and thoughts to life in a much larger-than-life manner. With the voice that you have through your craft, no matter how amplified, you automatically gain a platform, an imaginary megaphone and script placed in your clutches at all times. No matter your occupation—whether a painter, writer, journalist, or art teacher—as someone with a platform who the public looks up to in terms of gaining insight and information regarding today’s world, the weight of your existence is incredibly large, even if you are simply using such as a means to vent about your daily struggles.
When gazing at the graduation rates of even our country’s top art schools, the statistics are strikingly low—many being about 40 to 50 percent—giving light to just how much artists today truly struggle. With having such a great amount of pressure placed on one’s shoulders, this becomes a harrowing ordeal, for this expectation to succeed and find perfection is one that is not easy to live by. With having the ability to spread your words, opinions, and ideas to a much broader audience than most, whether through actual letters or brushstrokes, such becomes a great responsibility that many underestimate—one’s impact on the world, in this sense, becomes an incredible burden to carry, thousands of eyes worldwide looking to you to know what they are meant to believe and what they are meant to follow. Like those shoes, caked in dirt and ripping at the seams, you, too, have faced the roughest parts of life, especially at the expense of your craft (whatever that may be). Constantly facing criticism, judgment, financial difficulties, lack of exposure, and more makes even getting out of bed in the morning a chore, let alone being able to create.
Even if your stride falters or your gaze wanders, you continue to trudge along the path less traveled. As you climb steep inclines, fall down hardly-trodden routes, and experience the ups and downs that come with growing up and honing your creative calling, those shoes travel with you, getting just as beaten up and torn as you do. Though those shoes, once perfectly intact, have become worn, this does not make them any less important or valuable as they had been when they first slipped onto your feet—they have become a part of you, a vital part in your success and conquer over failure. Serving as a constant reminder of what you have endured, those shoes, able to outlast the elements, continue to last.
Stars in your eyes, stretched-out soles smacking the pavement, you make your mark with each step you take. Whether in terms of your muddy footprints tattooing fresh carpet or in terms of your presence within the hearts and minds of many through your creative expression, your pieces in museums, your words published in magazines, your simple existence has created a shift in the current, no matter if you realize that or not. Your words, thoughts, and actions act like a stone, plunging deep into the glassy, muddled surface of a body of water, sinking to the absolute bottom and creating a massive ripple, one that stretches out far and wide and eventually draws
out. Though that ripple eventually disappears in a physical sense, like that stone’s influence on the water into which it sunk, your impact never truly fades into black—you last, like those old shoes, for as long as those that you have touched are around, as long as those muddy footprints stay, and as long as your ideas and works don’t die.
Even after you are gone, far from the places from which you came, your impact never truly leaves, present within everyone and everything that you have touched. Like old shoes left to decay within the deepest nooks and crannies of a local park or busy intersection, your mark is one that can never truly cease and is one that can never really be ignored. Though you’re gone, you, or in this case, your art, will always remain as a perpetual reminder of the influence that you have had on this ever-changing world, no matter how minor that may have been. Despite
discouragement, art (and the artists who craft) is such an important part of today’s world, no matter the form which it takes, and that is something that cannot be ignored.